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Campbell Brown’s Candid Statement Becomes Main CNN Exit Storyline

Mediaite broke the news yesterday afternoon that Campbell Brown was leaving CNN. But her wide-ranging, extremely honest statement released around 7pmET became the biggest part of the story.

Here’s a look at what she said – and the overwhelmingly positive reaction.

The New York Times took the statement and made the storyline the lead of the print version of the story. “Once again, a star anchor is leaving CNN,” wrote Brian Stelter. “This time it is Campbell Brown, and she is leaving with an extraordinary amount of candor.”

On Twitter, the response was almost universally positive. Kenneth Li of the Financial Times wrote, “Campbell brown’s statement about leaving CNN is quite possibly the most honest I’ve seen of it’s kind. Kudos.” Tweeted Sports columnist Jason Whitlock: “Brown announced her resignation with class and integrity! Was always a big fan and I’m not surprised she’s going out head high.”

Here’s the full statement, but the highlight was certainly her frank discussion of her own struggles in the ratings.

I’m pretty sure the last time any anchor could honestly ignore ratings was well before I was born. Of course I pay attention to ratings. And simply put, the ratings for my program are not where I would like them to be. It is largely for this reason that I am stepping down as anchor of CNN’s “Campbell Brown”.

To be clear: this is my decision, and one that I have been thinking about for some time. As for why, I could have said, that I am stepping down to spend more time with my children (which I truly want to do). Or that I am leaving to pursue other opportunities (which I also truly want to do). But I have never had much tolerance for others’ spin, so I can’t imagine trying to stomach my own. The simple fact is that not enough people want to watch my program, and I owe it to myself and to CNN to get out of the way so that CNN can try something else.

She specifically discusses her 8pmET competitors as well – and while she puts the onus on CNN to come up with a workable plan for the prime time hour, she very clearly is standing by her soon-to-be former network:

CNN will have to figure out what that is. The 8pm hour in cable news world is currently driven by the indomitable Bill O’Reilly, Nancy Grace and Keith Olbermann. Shedding my own journalistic skin to try to inhabit the kind of persona that might co-exist in that line up is simply impossible for me. It is not who I am or who I want to be; nor is it who CNN asked me to be at any point. This is the right decision for me and I hope it will be a great opportunity for CNN.

There are follow-up questions that will be addressed in the coming days and weeks. The main question will be how CNN plans to revitalize the 8pmET hour. Are they ready to try something drastically different (and more similar to the competitors’ brand of personality-driven news)? Also, there’s the other issue alluded to in the NYT lead – this is another star leaving CNN. Lou Dobbs, Christiane Amanpour and now Brown. How has this exodus hurt Brand CNN – and is it over?

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